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The Top Stories of 2013

HappyNewYearAs Stetson University welcomes 2014, we cannot help but to be inspired by recalling the important and even historic events and milestones achieved this past year on the part of students, faculty, staff and alumni. We’ve chosen some benchmark stories and welcome stories that you might have —just leave them in the comment section below.

The following stories brought us to a new level of excellence as a university in 2013. These stories are impressive and show that Stetson is poised not just for success, but for significance in making a difference in the world in the new year.

  • Record Enrollment – Despite significant declines in enrollment at many other universities across the country, Stetson’s record undergraduate enrollment (2,729 compared to 2,516 in 2012) necessitated the conversion of one floor of DeLand’s Clarion Hotel into a residence hall, even after the purchase and conversion of the former University Inn to University Hall. Since 2009, there has been a 64 percent increase in undergraduate enrollment at Stetson, plus increasing student quality markers, as well. For the first time in recent history, prospective students were put on a waiting list. 
  • Stetson has hired 30 new faculty members to make sure we don’t lose the quality of the Stetson experience as we grow. 
  • Stetson Football Dominates Warner 31-3 in Home Opener (Stetson Reporter) – Hatter Football returned to Stetson in the fall 2013 in the first season since 1957, re-energizing the university and surrounding communities. The Daytona Beach News-Journal ranked the return of Stetson football as the area’s top sports story of 2013. 
  • Happy Hatter Homecoming 2013 – In the first fall Homecoming scheduled around a Hatter football game since 1957, the Hatters beat Davidson 26-13, before an overflow crowd of 6,544—the largest home crowd of the year. Quarterback Ryan Tentler helped lead the Hatters to a decisive 26-13 victory, which marked Stetson’s first win in the Pioneer League. During Homecoming Week, there were more than 80 events held in seven days. Roughly 1,000 alumni returned to campus throughout the week, and student organizations performed 366 hours of community service. Students raised more than $8,000 for DeLand-based nonprofit organizations through this year’s Greenfeather campaign. And, Political Science professor T. Wayne Bailey, Ph.D., was honored at a dinner celebrating his 50 years of service at Stetson University. The Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2013 were presented to: Dr. H. Frank Farmer, Jr. ’64 (History), and Dr. Kaye Wachsmuth, BS ’66 (Biology). The Outstanding Young Alumni Award for 2013 was presented to Lauren L. Hill ’08 (Environmental Science and Social Science). Nestor de Armas ’73, Trustee Emeritus, was presented the Doyle E. Carlton Award, and Trustee Geoff Jollay ’75, was presented the Distinguished Service Award for 2013. 

In College of Arts and Sciences news:

  • Stetson installed a SCALE-UP classroom – Student Centered Active Learning Environment for Upside-down Pedagogies/teaching methods. This innovative science classroom, aimed to move the class period to a more active and interactive form of learning, is located in 222 Sage Science Center. It is technologically oriented, consisting of: a tablet used by professors to project onto white screens; four large white screens that project images from professor’s tablet or students’ laptops; eight flat screen TVs, used to project from tablets and laptops; eight dry-erase boards; eight speakers in ceiling; and hand-held clickers for students to use in quizzes.
  • Award-winning Blackfish documentary prominently features John Jett, Ph.D., visiting research professor, and laboratory director for Stetson’s Department of Biology. A former whale trainer at SeaWorld, Professor Jett has advanced research on the health of large marine mammals in captivity and the wild.   

In School of Business Administration news:

  • Roland George Investments Program bond portfolio wins two national competitions: RISE—in which Stetson placed first in 10 of the 13 years the competition has been around, and second in the other three years; and first in the GAME competition—which Stetson has won every year since GAME competition started three years ago.  
  • Accounting grads ace CPA exam – Stetson graduates with a bachelor’s degree had the highest overall pass rate in Florida (84.6 percent) on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam in 2012. According to NASBA, the next highest pass rate was only 63.4 percent; Stetson was first out of 24 schools reporting. 

In College of Law news: 

At a time when most law schools across the country have had to adapt to the new marketplace and dwindling applications, the number of students enrolled in the College of Law’s entering class was very close to the projected enrollment goals for this year, while increasing First Year’s LSAT scores and applicants’ GPAs. As reported in STETSON LAW, only Stetson is ranked in the top five of the key standards for trial advocacy (#1), and legal writing (#5) by U.S. News, both vital skills for attorneys. The percentage of Stetson law graduates who passed the Florida bar exam on the first try in February 2013 was at 93.9 percent. The state average for passing on the initial effort was 80.2 percent. Other notable law news includes:

In School of Music news, two music faculty members celebrated 30 years of teaching in Stetson’s Music School this year:

  • Steinway Artist and professor of piano Michael Rickman, praised by the New York Times, Daytona Beach News-Journal and media outlets around the globe for his brilliance on the piano, is the recipient of the Hand Award for Creative Activity and Research, and the McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching.  
  • Stephen Robinson founded the Guitar Program at Stetson in 1983, his inaugural year on campus. He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalists awards, a National Endowment for the Arts Recording Award, a Fulbright Fellowship for Performance and Research in Canada, and two Stetson Hand awards for Excellence in Research and Creativity.
  • Music education professor Ann Small, Ph.D., was honored in December by the Florida Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, for excellence in Choral Music in Florida.  
  • Stetson’s Women’s Chorale, Andrew Larson conductor, was awarded a special peer-review invitation from 1,000 choir conductors from 11 states, and performed at the Divisional Conference of the ACDA in Jacksonville, Fla., earlier this year. 

The WORLD: International Learning – adds two new programs: Vietnam and Brazil – Through both new programs, Stetson is now well-positioned to cover the globe in enhancing its international connections and expand its offerings to faculty and students. In President Wendy Libby’s blog in Huffington Post, she writes, “approximately five percent of Stetson’s student body this year comes from 55 countries, which gives our U.S. students rich exposure to other cultures in one of the best possible ways… I know we have an obligation to provide tomorrow’s leaders with experiences that will prepare them for meaningful work and lives … in meeting global needs.”

Stetson wins Florida Campus Compact top award – Stetson’s Center for Community Engagement was awarded the top 2013 Campus-Community Partnership award for its collaborative work with the Volusia County Public School District.

In its recent refurbishment, it became evident that Holler Fountain holds more than water. The iconic fountain, once referred to by a past Stetson president as a “fountain of youth,” was restored back to its aqua blue color, the original shade of the cast iron fountain. The very bright blue hue greeted the students when they arrived on campus in the fall. The odds of having at least one memorable moment involving Holler Fountain is almost guaranteed. Please send us your favorite fountain memory in the comments below.

Stetson will roll out a new Tobacco/Smoke-Free Plan to begin on Stetson’s residential campuses in DeLand and Gulfport in August 2014 – The policy prohibits all forms of tobacco use including e-cigarettes and a variety of smokeless products on Stetson buildings, structures, grounds, parking lots and in university and personal vehicles while on Stetson grounds. “Stetson is committed to providing a safe and healthy living, learning and working environment for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors,” said President Libby.

Peter Edelman, director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, and law professor at Georgetown University, was the inaugural speaker for Stetson University’s new Social Justice Lecture Series. The Edelman lecture, held in mid-October, was entitled, “So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America.” For more information on the university’s new lecture series, visit Stetson’s Social Justice Lecture Series website.

SUM wins CASE Grand Award for Green or Sustainable Publications for VISUAL Admissions Magazine. Stetson University Marketing received eight CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) awards at the CASE District III Conference held in February in Atlanta. CASE awards include writing, editing, professional execution of publications, design, technical quality, creativity and an array of other elements to the programs. In addition to the Grand Award, Stetson won two Awards of Excellence and five Special Merit Awards.

In the current issue of STETSON Magazine, “Unleashing Innovation: How We Achieve Significance – An endowed gift names the first dean position in Stetson’s history,” the article describes that after 50 years of service to the university as a Stetson librarian, Trustee alumna Betty Drees Johnson has funded the Betty Drees Johnson Dean of the duPont-Ball Library and Digital Learning Resources Endowed Chair, held by Sue Ryan, as well as library innovations. Dean Ryan has challenged the librarians and staff to make the library a showcase library, ahead of the curve in learning technologies and innovative ways to disseminate information.

A growing endowment is a signal of a university’s strength and its ability to weather change. Income from our endowment funds scholarships, faculty positions and a range of initiatives as part of our day-to-day operations. In the university’s current fundraising campaign, monies raised will go to the university’s highest priorities, as outlined in Stetson University’s Strategic Map, including: Enriching the Student Experience, Advancing Academic Innovation and Creating a Vibrant Community. Nearly $35,000,000 was raised in the last academic year.

In other Hatter Athletics news:

  • Women’s Basketball team goes to the Big Dance – Women’s basketball team made its third NCAA tournament appearance when the team played UCLA in March, after going 14-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference play, good for a second-place finish. They had captured the A-Sun crown when they defeated FGCU, which had been the top-seeded team.
  • Pete Dunn was named to Hall of Fame for College Baseball Coaches – Pete Dunn earned college baseball’s highest honor early this year when he was elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, with a career record (as of January 2013) of 1,202-762-3 in 33 seasons at his alma mater. He has led the Hatters to 13 NCAA Regional Tournament appearances in his career and has captured eight A-Sun conference titles. He has been named the league’s coach of the year six times. 

DeLand, home of Stetson University, won Best Downtown in Central Florida – In the Orlando Sentinel’s online competition, which kicked off Thanksgiving Day and ran through Dec. 16, DeLand beat out Winter Park, Winter Garden and ultimately, Mount Dora by more than 8,000 votes in the final round, thanks in large part to the online votes of Stetson’s alumni, faculty, staff and students.

We know we didn’t capture all the good news in the above highlights, so if you’d like to add something, please send us your comments (below) and contribute your good news Stetson story or your favorite Stetson moment in 2013.


Mary Anne Rogers, editor